Monday, April 1, 2013

Are You Having a Polar Bear Morning?

Read It. Move It. Share It. 
Each month I recommend a picture book for dance educator Maria Hanley to use in her creative movement classes in New York, and then we both share our experiences with the book. Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson and Stephen Savage was our March pick. Read more about it here, and then hop over to Maria's Movers to see how Maria used the book with her students!

We don't get much snow where I live, but we did have the most beautiful snow of the season just a couple of weeks ago. I was initially worried about choosing another wintery book for my monthly collaboration with Maria, but I'm not feeling so bad anymore since so many of us had our fair share of cold "polar bear" mornings in March. 

Polar Bear Morning, written by Lauren Thompson with pictures by Stephen Savage, was published in January of this year by Scholastic Press. In the spirit of winter, the book's text is quite "cool" and calming, as is the color palette of gray, blue, and white with an occasional splash of orange, brown, or red.

The book's theme and structure remind me in some ways of the picture book Fluff and Billy, which Maria and I featured on our blogs in February. Both books are about friendship -- the friendship of two penguins in Fluff and Billy and of two polar bear cubs in Polar Bear Morning. Both also involve some follow-the-leader behavior as the sets of friends scamper and play in the snow. 

The language in the two books, however, is very different. Fluff and Billy is told in a very direct way, with few words. Polar Bear Morning provides much more description, detail, and imagery...

The morning is chill and bright.
From her cozy den, a polar bear cub peeks out 
at the snow and ice and clear blue sky. 

The little bear hears the seagull's faraway call.
She sees the sparkling snow. 
She clambers out into the day.

The imagery in the book is what makes it a good choice for creative movement in my mind. Even in the opening lines, words like "cozy" and "sparkling" and "clambers" make me want to move in new and interesting ways. I hope they inspire others to move in new ways, too. I realize that small children might not know the meaning of words like "clamber" yet, but it's never to early to learn, right?

Another element of the book that might inspire movement is the reappearance of the seagulls, which are introduced in the book's opening lines. The gulls "call" out several times during the book, almost like they are asking the bear cubs to follow them. This makes me think that it would be fun to experiment with different sounds and how students respond to them in movement. In other words, what do the different sounds ask them to do? 

In many ways the book also lends itself well to partner dances. As I mentioned earlier, the polar bears do a lot of movements using a follow-the-leader format. But the illustrations also show them doing some movements together, especially at the end of the book when they really solidify their friendship. 

So many options for this book! Let's find out here which one Maria chose. And if you like Polar Bear Morning, you should also check out its award-winning companion Polar Bear Night -- another great choice for a creative movement class!


  1. Hi Kerry,

    I just discovered this blog and have added my name to the email list. I'm sorry I missed your March 30th deadline to submit ideas, but below is the link to a blog that I write once a month, as part of a large group of early childhood educators. Like you, I am also an author with a background in dance! I write about the importance of movement for young children and often use books and stories for inspiration.

    Here is the link:


    Connie Bergstein Dow

    1. Hi, Connie! I'm so glad you found me. As usual, I'm behind in getting the March Read & Romp Roundup out, so I'll sneak you in :) So happy to hear that you post about movement and stories, too! It is always SO nice to meet others with some of the same passions as me. I look forward to connecting more!


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